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Brazilian economist selected as new IDB president

Published:Tuesday 12:08 AM

Brazilian economist Ilan Goldfajn.

Latin American and Caribbean governments on Sunday selected Brazilian economist Ilan Goldfajn to lead the region’s largest development bank in the wake of a misconduct probe that led to the firing of the previous president.

Governors from the Inter-American Development Bank’s 48 members selected Goldfajn to lead the Washington-based multilateral lender from a slate of five candidates nominated by Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Mexico and Trinidad & Tobago.

It follows the firing in September of Mauricio Claver-Carone, who had been the first American to lead the bank in its 63-year history. He was removed after an ethics probe found he likely carried on an intimate relationship with a subordinate. He denied the allegation.

The Inter-American Development Bank is the biggest multilateral lender to Latin America, disbursing last year a record US$23 billion to alleviate poverty made worse by the coronavirus pandemic in the region. The United States is the largest shareholder, with 30 per cent of voting rights.

The new president will be tasked with bolstering economies that were hit by the coronavirus pandemic and are now suffering from weakening currencies, increasing foreign debt and capital flight spurred by inflation, and rising interest rates in the US and Europe.

Last month, the International Monetary Fund slashed its forecast for growth across the region to 1.7 per cent in 2023 — down from an estimate of 2.0 per cent made in July.

Gaspard Estrada, director of the Political Observatory of Latin America and the Caribbean at Sciences Po in Paris, said that the return of a Latin American to the helm of the bank should help reduce the polarisation that surrounded Claver-Carone’s election and make the task of securing additional resources easier.

“It’s logical that normality will return,” said Estrada.

Goldfajn previously was president of Brazil’s central bank and chief economist at several major Brazilian financial institutions. He took a leave of absence from his current job as the Western Hemisphere director at the International Monetary Fund to compete for the position. He was nominated by Brazil’s outgoing President, Jair Bolsonaro.


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